Palestinian artist Jumana Manna (born in the United States in 1987) makes films and sculptures that explore the ways in which social, political and interpersonal forms of power interact with the human body. Her films weave together fact and fiction, biographical and archival materials, to investigate constructions of national and historical narratives. Her sculptures, more abstract by comparison, take interest in the calcifications of memory, as represented by the artefact real or forged.
In recent projects, Manna has used film and sculpture to recompose various archival materials that pertain to historical narratives of the Levant and northern Europe as separate and relational geographies. These works have explored the ways in which economic, political and interpersonal forms of power condition architectural sites as well as human and plant life. Manna has a particular interest in the erasures that accompany various modern scientific preservation practices; her projects challenge the binary constructions of a pure and unchanging heritage on the one hand, and the embrace of innovation on the other.
In her newly commissioned work Wild Relatives, Manna follows the matrix of hierarchies and relationships involved in a transaction of seeds between the Norwegian town of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, an island in the Arctic Ocean, and the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. The film travels the path of these seeds and traces motifs of extracting and placing different life forms from and into the ground, back and forth from dry lands to permafrost.